The front page of the L.A. TIMES — from the collection of Mark Weber — Jimmy Carter singing “Salt Peanuts”
THE THURSDAY JAZZ RADIO SHOW
March 26, 2o15 – Jazz @ Noon every Thursday (starts at 12:07 after the satellite news) Host MARK WEBER – KUNM Albuquerque, USA – 89.9 FM (Mountain Standard Time) also streaming on the web > KUNM.org – Current time zone offset: UTC*/GMT -6 hours (*Coordinated Universal Time)/Greenwich Mean Time)
WAX CYLINDERS AND MISSING GENERATIONS
In Southern California during the late 70s you started hearing the guys on the street referring to each other as “Homes” — this idiom surfaced first in drug culture among the pachucos, at least, that’s where I was hearing it: “Hey, Homes, you alright, man?” For years I always thought they were saying “Holmes,” as in Sherlock, being that they were all so enamored of criminality and being slick, like Sherlock Holmes, it seemed to make sense to me. [Homes = Homey = Homeboy = close ally in the neighborhood.]
Call it philology or misappropriation, Sherlock Holmes always found something underneath, and no less so with the Case of the Missing Generation of Jazz Listeners.
Normally, it is I, Dr Watson, who documents the cases of my friend Sherlock Holmes, but Holmes has sent me to the Institute of Jazz Studies to conference with the eminent ethnomusicologist Dr Morgenstern who can profer some background on this case, and in my stead I have asked my colleague Dr Webski to take notes and keep abreast of developments as they unfold in my absence.
It was a foggy day in London Town the morning I arrived at Baker Street to keep my appointment with the renowned investigator Sherlock Holmes. Through the door of 221b I could hear the sound of violins and after Mrs Hudson ushered me inside there was the man himself with his equally renowned violin tucked under his chin as he bent over a wax cylinder of Joe Venuti studying the phrasing with eminant joy on his face, looking up he hollared, “Come in, come in, my dear Dr Webski, listen to this absolutely inscrutable sense of time this American violinist has on this Negro musical form they call the blues!”
After I sat down near the fire and warmed my hands Sherlock Holmes barked, “How do you think he achieves that tremolo effect while still playing his improvisation? Amazing, is it not?” And as he disattached the armature and slid it inward on this curious device he leaned back and grabbed his pipe with a satisfied moony look on his face. And just as I was thinking how he must live in some sort of time warp he said: “I would have rather liked to have observed that gentleman and his violin, but I fear that was some time ago, in another age. Now, tell me about your inquiry, Watson gave me the merest scintilla of information regarding the case, something about a missing generation?”
I proceeded to tell him that all over America, from which I had only arrived that morning by ship, that jazz club owners are experiencing a dearth of age 20- and 30-somethings in their audiences. That it happened all of a sudden. I myself was in a bustling club in my hometown of Albarkbarkque one evening listening with my eyes closed to a quartet make a good go of it whereupon I opened my eyes this generation had disappeared. Poof. Gone. Nowhere in sight.
“And Webski, do you have a theory as to this disappearance?”
“Well, my private suspicions are supported by a study some years ago at Durwood University, of which the social scientists there concluded that there has been a decided dumbing down of culture since the Reagan-Thatcher Era.”
From out of the cloud of smoke surrounding his head he lowered his meerschaum and queried, “Reagan-Thatcher? are they reprobates who have contributed to this ‘dumbing down’ as you call it, I don’t know them.”
“You wouldn’t, they come along after your time.”
“And you believe this disappearance is due to a segment of the population being too stupid to enjoy this jazz music?”
“Well, yes, I suppose.”
“Come, come, my dear Webski, don’t you think that’s a bit harsh?”
“Well, one can’t help wondering,” I said as I wonder’d who might be playing at Ronnie Scott’s tonight. I looked around the cluttered room for a copy of the Times, it could be Joe Venuti, after all, playing with Zoot Sims. Stranger things have indeed happened.
The clouded head said: “And you give no credence to the idea that they quite simply could have disappeared?”
“Are you serious, Holmes. What are you smokin’?”
“My friend H.G. Wells, in who’s time machine I’m traveling today, is quite convinced that disappearances are the consequence of time manipulation. Although, I doubt he’d argue with you concerning the stupid factor,” tamping down a last light in his pipe.
“Yes, well, my line of reasoning is compromised, certainly. That’s why I’ve come to you, Mr Holmes.” After all, this wouldn’t be the first generation to fall down a rabbit hole and disappeared, some are born to quieter times, some are merely swallowed by nothing more than a television set.
Alas, our polemics along these lines continued on at some discourse, mostly inconclusive, somewhat mystified in excelsis deo, before which all is outside our knowing, even Sherlock Holmes’ irreducible eye. Let me say that it is with no little relief that I bring my account to an abrupt conclusion and leave the more detailed chronicle to the perspicacious and more exacting perceptions of Dr Watson, who is a much better writer than yours truly — I can sum up that Holmes spent the next two days looking into this matter and the nights with me at Ronnie Scott’s listening to Tubby Hayes, even as his mind seemed a million miles away. It was his temporary explanation that this generation in question didn’t so much as disappear as they have gone to a place called Internet.
When I asked further, he said: “It is unwise to speculate without sufficient data on which to put forward a possible solution.”
Exasperated, I said, “Do you even know what the Internet is? or, a computer for that matter?”
Of which he curtly informed me, “It is elementary my dear Webski. The Internet is a scheme of that arch-villain Professor Moriarty and it is to his mind I am ever intrigued as to the circumventions that the human mind is ever intent upon confusing a true vision of life. Only the Buddha saw through such smoke and mirrors and to him I am going to have another puff.”
As noted in the exordium, “Homes” would not be our man Holmes, a man apart, who kept his own council, if not for his pipe.
You could hear the trotting of a horse and trap as it rounded Oxford Street, probably Lestrade, though I hardly think we need involve Scotland Yard, but I must leave now, I have a radio show to produce.
So much music has taken place at The Village Gate (corner of Thompson & Bleecker Street) since it opened in 1958 it’s staggering — photo by Mark Weber — March 7, 1987 Greenwich Village —- this location closed in 1993 —- I believe we have some live sets of Mingus from the Gate we can listen to
The Thunderbirds — San Francisco Blues Festival — Sunday August 13, 1978 — Golden Gate Park — Keith Ferguson, bass; Jimmie Vaughan, Stratocaster; Kim Wilson, vocals & harp; (Mike Buck on drums) —- This is before they had released any of their albums and they blew us out of our seats —- They weren’t yet called the Fabulous Thunderbirds and we knew nothing of them, only that after the first song that day we all wonder’d what in the gawd’s blue blazes is going on in Austin? Just last week I read the narrative biography KEITH FERGUSON: TEXAS BLUES BASS (2o14) by Detlef Schmidt, being interested in what compelled white kids of my generation to become so deeply immersed in blues culture —- if I hadn’t grown up rough myself I would have thought these Thunderbirds scary, they looked like brothers of mine . . . .
Live radio broadcast from Studio A at KUNM Albuquerque — The Rob Blakeslee Quartet — Vinny Golia, reeds; Ken Filiano, bass; Billy Mintz, drums; Rob, trumpet; and at the end of the one-hour broadcast I snuck in a poem of which this photo is taken by the engineer, Simon Welter, on my camera through the glass — May 24, 1997
Billy Mintz, drums, and Ken Filiano, bass — KUNM studios — May 24, 1997 — photo by Mark Weber
Tuba studies #3 — March 2oo3 — photo by Mark Weber
Gordon Brisker Quartet — April 26, 1981 in Cucamonga, California, on Rt.66 at Gilberto’s — Joe Diorio, guitar; Dick Berk, drums; Gordon, tenor sax; Bob Maize, bass — photo by Mark Weber
Buddy Collette – Fred Katz Quintet — May 9, 1981 Los Angeles — Llew Matthews, piano; Paul Humphrey, drums; Nathan East, bass — photo by Mark Weber — both exerted an oracular presence over the West Coast
It was too dark last night when I ate that fortune cookie and laid the fortune aside — found it on the table this morning: In the end all things will be known, it says —- well, not according to this new Henry Threadgill music that I’m listening to — I love the work he does with his Zooid band, it just never resolves, it floats in suspension, luxuriously — it reminds me of whole-tone music but I think it moves according to other laws —– photo by Mark Weber — October 1, 2o10 at Outpost Performance Space, Albuquerque — Henry Threadgill & Zooid: Elliot Humberto Kavee, drums; Stomu Takemishi, electric bass; Jose Davilla, tuba; Christopher Hoffman, cello; Liberty Ellman, guitar
Arlen Asher broadcasting The Jazz Experience, KSFR Santa Fe — October 17, 2o10 —- every few months or so Arlen asks me to co-host and I drive up to Santa Fe and play our favorite records —- Arlen’s show is every Monday 9-Noon —- I’ll be on March 30th — photo by Mark Weber
Soundcheck at The Stone —- Kevin Norton tests his vibes while soundman Ben Manley adjusts a few things — photo by Mark Weber — August 22, 2o14 NYC —– Kevin Norton’s history is deep, having studied with Milt Hinton (and recorded with) and played for Anthony Braxton many many years and almost as many with Norwegian free sax cat Frode Gjerstad’s Circulasione Totale Orchestra that includes Bobby Bradford to nowadays as a member of a quartet with Connie Crothers — And for all of this, still one of his central concerns has been as a composer, and a composer of very intriguing labyrinthine & patterned music — He is a music instructor at William Paterson University, New Jersey